Fast facts about big Baobabs

Fast facts about big Baobabs

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Quickly get up to speed with Limpopo’s ancient Baobab trees in a convenient “little BIG Baobab book” hitting Limpopo’s bookshelves soon. “My PhD research on baobab trees, inspired me to produce this booklet” says Sarah Venter owner and founder of EcoProducts which buys baobab fruit from rural communities and extracts powder and oil from the fruit in her factory in Louis Trichardt. The extracts are packaged and sold to retail stores and in bulk to local and international manufacturers of food and cosmetic products.

Sustainable harvesting benefits jobless rural people

Sarah grew up between Baobabs on cattle and game farms in Limpopo and Zimbabwe. She founded EcoProducts in 2006 with the vision to create a business that would use her knowledge of sustainable forest utilization and would benefit rural Venda people at the same time.  “Within a few months I found myself working with 20 women in a little Venda village called Madifha.  By the following year I was working with 400 women.” Now over a 1000 women in poverty stricken far northern Limpopo receive an income from sustainably harvesting baobab fruit.

Baobabs important social and natural assets

Through my research I discovered that due to poor seedling survival, climate and land-use change the baobab tree population might crash in a few hundred years time. Now I am even more determined to dedicate my non-profit EcoProducts Foundation to conserve this magnificent tree and to grow awareness of its importance in our social and natural environment”.

The Little BIG Baobab book is packed with easy-to-read facts, figures and photos and makes a perfect little companion when you drive or walk around the rugged Baobab-belt in the Limpopo river valley north of the Soutpansberg, which we highly recommend you do –if you can’t, at least try to get a taste of baobab-sorbet before you die. The booklet is a handy little guide to carry with on the Baobab walk at Madi a Thavha too.

The oldest living thing in Africa

The African baobab, Adansonia digitata, is the largest and oldest living thing in Africa. Baobabs manage to outlast every plant and animal in their harsh and arid environments. They store enormous amounts of water in their cells, giving the tree its swollen-looking appearance.

Limpopo’s baobab the largest flowering plant on earth

The largest and second oldest Baobab tree on the planet is found in the Limpopo river valley in South Africa. The ‘Sagole Tree’ is close to Pafuri, the most northern gate of the Kruger National Park. This magnificent specimen is carbon dated at about 1200 years old. It stands 22 meters tall, measures 33 meters in circumference and is the biggest flowering plant on Earth. This tree was born in the 800’s the same era that Alfred the Great became king of Britain and the Russian nation was founded by the Vikings.

The rare mottled Spinetail bird is associated with baobabs and the Sagole tree supports the largest colony of this species in South Africa.

Only starting to flower at around 200 years of age

Baobabs can be as old as 200 years before they produce their first flowers, but if the tree is watered daily it can bloom within 23 years. We have planted two 7 year old, baby Baobabs in Madi a Thavha’s garden as little companions to the big-mama of 600 year old that can be seen on one of the short hiking routes at the lodge.

Powder a super food

The nutritious fruit powder (now considered a ‘super food’) has always been known throughout Africa to boost health and vitality.

  • Calcium – 3 x more than milk
  • Vitamin C – 4 x more than Oranges
  • Potassium – 6 x more than bananas
  • Anti-oxidants – 5 x more than blue berries
  • Dietary fibers – 16 x more than pears
  • Magnesium – 5 x more than avocados

The chalky powder is acidic with a lemony flavor which looks and tastes a bit like cream of tartar (potassium hydrogen tartar) from there the Afrikaans name ‘Kremetart’. Although the powder contains tartaric acid is has a very different composition to cream of tartar. The powder can be added to yoghurts and smoothies, or be used as a delicious ingredient in sauces, dips like bao-mayo and exotic desserts. In east Africa it is used as an alternative to lemon in curries.

Oil has excellent anti-aging and healing properties

The Baobab is one of very few plants that contain Omega 3, 6 and 9 fatty acids. The seed-oil has excellent skin-penetration properties making a superior skin moisturizer to improve the condition of skin, hair and nails. The oil is used for dry itchy and scaly skin, scars, stretch marks, sunburn and insect bites.

Baobabs’ ancestral guardians

Baobabs are often found in the centre of rural Venda, Tsonga or Sotho villages where rural people traditionally meet and dance in its towering presence. People of many African cultures believe that ancestral spirits live in Baobabs and always treat them with great respect and reverence.

Become a Baobab custodian

South Africa is one of the few countries in Africa with laws that protect baobabs. “I hope that our booklet will contribute to a culture of caring for these very special African trees since it is so crucial to their survival and so important in the lives of rural people,” says Sarah.

“We invite everyone who learns about the value of Baobabs to become custodians of this magnificent tree”. A Tshivenda edition of “little BIG Baobab book” will also be distributed to communities and schools in the area soon.

With thanks to Sarah Venter and Petra Terblanche for allowing us to use some of their photos and information.

3 Responses

  1. Prof.Dr.Hans-Ulrich Meisch says:

    last year we spent a night at Madi-aThavha and then travelled north to Botswana. We admired the huge Baobabs near the roadside and would like to learn more about those interesting trees. Are you able to send your booklet to Germany, and how much would it cost? I am interested in 3 books (one for me and the others for two ladies who were with me last year).
    Best wishes

    • Elthea Schlesinger says:

      Dear Mr Meisch

      The booklet is still at the printers. Madi a Thavha will order a box and will let you know the price and shipping cost as soon as it is available.
      Where in Germany do you stay?
      Baobabs are indeed wonderful trees.

      All the best
      Elthea Schlesinger and Marcelle Bosh.

    • Dr Hans Ulrich says:

      Dear Dr Hans,

      The baobab booklet is ready and costs R 50 each.
      Kindly send us your postal address to send the booklet and we we will inform you in terms of total costs including postage.

      Kind regards,

      Musa Matchume

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